Connecting with older people: Promoting awareness of ageing among young people in Cambodia
By Catherine Yu (Right, HelpAge Cambodia, Assistant Programme Manager) and Yanmei Ng (Left, HelpAge Cambodia, Home Care and Health Curriculum Development Facilitator).
To raise young people's awareness of ageing issues and encourage people to volunteer for HelpAge in Cambodia, we conducted a "Connecting with Older People Workshop" at two universities in Battambang and Banteay Meanchey. The workshop covered three topics; understanding older people, the ageing situation in Cambodia and communicating with older people.
Sharing impressions of the ageing process
During the session on understanding older people, we discussed what the concept of being "old" means. The participants were invited to share their impressions on the ageing process. Generally, they assumed that people who were older were weak, fragile and needed help. Are these impressions based on any truth?
In the second session, the "ageing situation in Cambodia", we focused on demographic statistics and findings on the key issues older people face. In small groups, participants gave group presentations on what we can do to help older people as individuals and at the community level.
The last session covered some basic communication skills with older people, which were demonstrated through a simulation game. This enabled the students to experience some of the physical changes and challenges older people face that affect their interactions, such as poor eyesight and hearing difficulties.
Being in an older people's shoes
This activity involved teams of six students who had to deliver a message to the instructors while being in the shoes of an older person. The students wore masks to blur their vision and loud music was played to obstruct their hearing. Even with the help of aids and tools during the game, some students found it difficult. The participants were then encouraged to communicate with older people in a more positive and understanding manner.
Overall, the workshop definitely helped to open the participants' eyes. Many gave feedback about how their understanding of older people's situation in Cambodia had improved.
And the majority said they would like to help increase their local communities' understanding of ageing issues and wished to have older people involved in the workshops.
As a result, of the 55 university students who took part, 47 applied to become youth volunteers at HelpAge in Cambodia.
For more information about running a similar workshop, please contact Catherine Yu, HelpAge Cambodia, firstname.lastname@example.org!